HOUSTON — At least $600,000 in money taken from Lakewood Church more than seven years ago may have been found recently by a plumber doing repair work at the mega-church.
The mega-church, led by Joel and Victoria Osteen, wouldn’t confirm how much was recovered, but they did say recent repair work at the church is how some missing money was found.
Here is Lakewood’s statement on the discovery:
“Recently, while repair work was being done at Lakewood Church, an undisclosed amount of cash and checks were found. Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation. Lakewood has no further comment at this time.”
In March 2014, Lakewood Church reported to Houston police that at least $600,000 in donations was stolen from the church in cash, checks and envelopes containing credit card details. They believe the theft happened during church service offerings over a weekend in early March of that year.
Even despite a $25,000 reward from Crime Stoppers and media attention, the funds were never recovered.
Then last month, a plumber named “Justin” called into 100.3 The Bull’s morning show claiming he had uncovered all of the cash while doing repair work.
"Went to go remove the toilet and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall and I was like oh wow,” he said.
100.3 DJ George Lindsey told KHOU 11 News it sounds like something you would only see in a movie.
"This is like a movie, like the Rock and Ryan Reynolds movie. This is crazy," he said.
Lindsey added that he thinks Justin should get the $25,000 reward offered by Crime Stoppers.
KHOU 11 New reached out to Crime Stoppers to see if this plumber will be rewarded for his good deed.
The deputy director said unfortunately the statute of limitations for the reward has expired on this case. He also would have had to provide information on who actually took the money to begin with.
Back in March 2014, the church sent out this letter to its then more than 40,000 members about the theft:
"We were heartbroken to learn today that funds were stolen from the church over the weekend. This includes cash, checks and envelopes containing written credit card information, and it is limited only to those funds contributed in the church services on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, 2014. If you made a contribution during these weekend services, we would encourage you to pay close attention to your accounts over the next several days and weeks and report any suspicious activity to your financial institution or credit card company immediately.
It is important to note this was not an electronic data breach, but was instead limited to donations made in the services on March 8 and 9, 2014. You were not affected if you put your offering in a drop box, you gave online or through other electronic means, or you made a bookstore purchase. We are working with the police to fully investigate the incident. The funds were fully insured, and we are working with our insurance company to restore the stolen funds to the church.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact our Customer Service Department at 713-491-1506. The integrity of our congregants’ information is of utmost importance to us. And, we would like to thank you for your continued support."